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Smerconish Wonders: Can Patrick Murphy Make History in AG Race?

In his Sunday column, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and nationally syndicated radio host Michael Smerconish reviews the Republican dominance of 30+ years of Keystone State attorney general elections and wonders if former Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy can crack the code.

“While plenty of Democrats have been elected statewide since 1980, the year Pennsylvania began electing its attorney general, none has won the top law enforcement position,” Smerconish writes.

“Adding to the mystery of this GOP dominance is the state’s Democratic voter registration and the fact that elections for attorney general have taken place in presidential years in which several Democrats at the top of the ticket have carried the state.”

So what explains the trend?

Pollster Terry Madonna points to the GOP’s practice of running “super D.A.s, who had strong prosecutorial records to run on.”

Two-time Democratic AG candidate Jim Eisenhower notes the Republicans’ historic fundraising edge and the power of GOP incumbency.  “Because we have never held the office, many Democratic givers don’t understand the office and simply don’t care who the attorney general is,” he said.

Most interestingly, Smerconish tracks down LeRoy Zimmerman, the former Dauphin County District Attorney whose three-point victory in 1980 set the GOP-red tone that has lasted nearly 32 years.

“Voters have shown their strong and enduring preference for the Republican focus on enforcement,” Zimmerman tells Smerconish. “I believe that is why I was elected. And I believe that is one important reason why all my successors have been from my Republican side of the aisle.”

Click here to read the full column.

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